I was surprised by this sentence:

There was an announcement saying approximately when the cherry blossom will come out this year.

We seem to have a question 桜の花がいつ咲くか directly modifying a noun 発表.

If I'd been asked to say this I'd probably have said:


Are either/both of these grammatically correct? What about formality etc?

Edit: Just read this question which seems to suggest that my modified sentence is correct and that the original is wrong. But the original is from the NHK news website, so I'd be surprised if it was wrong.


2 Answers 2


No, this 桜の花が今年いつごろ咲くか doesn't modify 発表 but the predicate.

か-ending clause has not only function as nominal clause, but as adverbial too. Thus,

An announcement was made on approximately when the cherry blossom will come out this year.

Of course, your rephrased version works too, but 桜の花が今年いつごろ咲くかという発表 could be ambiguous whether it tells when they bloom or it literally says "when do they bloom".

  • If have a gut feeling your answer makes sense on a meta level - but I can't find evidence that will convince me it is correct on a strictly grammatical level. See my "post decision edit" below. And japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/24260/adverbial-clauses . Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 19:24
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    @CraigHicks か is undoubtedly a conjunction, as much as whether is. But whether is a conjunction only in the framework of whether—or, and the entire clause including whether doesn't function as conjunction, I suppose. The question is about how a clause ending with か behaves in the sentence. I think your explanation using について is quite excellent, though I doubt について is a conjunction (isn't it postposition?). Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 1:30
  • I have seen the light. か is not a conjunction. To quote an expert "Yes it's adverbial in relation to the verb (predicate), but you can't say it's simply an adverb (you can't use a te-form verb alone as an adverb). " [japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/38769/…. Thanks for the reply, very helpful. Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 5:08
  • correction - I have seen the light. か is not being used as a -conjunctive particle-. Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 6:18

Consider the sentence 桜の花が今年いつごろ咲くか発表がありました as being the conjunction of two sentences:

  • 桜の花が今年いつごろ咲く
  • 発表がありました

「か」is being used as a conjunctive particle in the particular case where the first sentence indicates a question.

Reference: http://www.japaneseammo.com/all-about-%E3%81%8B-its-not-only-a-question-marker/

Note: I have searched extensively for a reference listing か as a conjunctive particle. However, I could not find any such grammatical explanation. I could find one where it wasn't listed:

However, in all cases where か is serving as a conjunctive particle, it could be replaced by かについて、and について is a conjunctive particle. E.g.

  • いついくか計画を作ろう → いついくかについて計画を作ろう
  • 答えるかどうか決定せよ → 答えるかどうかについて決定せよ

I suppose you could say that after か the real conjunctive について is just being omitted, but even in that case then functionally speaking, か has come to serve as a conjunctive particle.

Post decision edit:

broken headphones answer gives the correct functional role, which is "adverbial clause", of 桜の花が今年いつごろ咲くか which modifies the predicate 発表がありました。I also recommend his explanation of "adverbial clause" vs. "adverb" found here.

A separate, but related, issue is the form used to "conjoin" the adverbial clause and the predicate, which also plays a role in expressing their relation.
For example, verb conjunctive form 「~て」、or conditional conjunctive form「~ば」.

**Do questions ending in ~か comprise a conjunctive form in their own right? **

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    Thanks for your research efforts. But, in all the examples in your links it looks like the question phrase comes before a verb. I'm happy with those kind of constructs. The thing that puzzles me about my sentence is that the question phrase comes before a noun. Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 22:21
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    In this case it comes before the verb ありました. // Xか、Yありました optional comma added for clarity as is allowed in Japanese. // Assuming that か cannot directly modify a noun, then can there be any other explanation? (There may be another explanation that I haven't grasped, but you have to start somewhere). // Note that the sentences in reference all fit the「 Xか、<verb phrase> 」form. // Plus, everyday language uses it extensively: いつ勇気を奮って答えをだすか決定しましょう。// いつごろ行くか、計画を立てましょう。 Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 22:45

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